Have you ever had the opportunity to train a mini league? Dealing with these youngsters, considering they are aged 8 to 12 years, some challenges may certainly come your way. First and foremost, you are their teacher and coach, but also their friend and temporary custodian, so the approach should contain learning and motivational aspects.
There’s no team if there’s no enthusiasm for the game, and not every kid is overly confident. Much like in all spheres of life, rewards and recognition have a prominent place. Naturally, properly training your group will increase their stamina on the field and prevent injuries. We mustn’t forget about the morale boosting strategies in times of need. Introduce the rules to them if necessary and enrich their technique and style alike.
I’m going to share here with you what I’ve adopted over the years in contact with the children I trained concerning all relevant elements. Let’s warm up.
If you think you’re better off with the senior crowds I can assure you that coaching children is immensely rewarding once you get the grip of it. Of course the kids may be rowdy in the beginning, but with consistent approach and regular and smartly delivered speeches, young players will start to believe, and act like one. Don’t leave anyone behind, especially the ones that are a bit shy or reserved.
To have a truly meaningful and constructive relationship with these youngsters, you have to understand their position and point of view. This is primarily a source of fun for them, a chance to learn and fall in love with the game by experimenting and expressing creativity. They may be accepted in some junior team in a few years, so it’s useful to incorporate some big players’ techniques at this stage as well. Lastly, as much as you care about the team, care about the individual problem of its members, and learn to hear their voice too.
The power of recognition
Make it a special tradition of rewarding the team for victories (take them out for a pizza or milkshakes once a month), but also for a neat gameplay and fair fight. Bumming them out when they’re not at their best will nip their enthusiasm in the bud for every other match of the season. Employ positive reinforcement and make losses a good lesson to learn from and analyse.
I suggest you keep a tidy record of your players and their improvements, along with the training schedule and requirements. Primarily, make sure you work on their adoption of rules and regulations. Next, shift to the game and draw out exemplary tactics to try out at practices.
When it comes to actual activities content, it should involve a solid warm-up, followed by attacking and defensive drills. Make sure they acquire the core skills and moves relevant to the game such as pass, tackle, kick and others. Only when they’re proficient in these you may proceed with the more advanced techniques.
Every good coach knows they can always be better, so I advise you constantly work on improving your skill set. This could mean reanalysing the matches, creating novel tactics, watching how others do it and consulting and exchanging ideas with your coaching colleagues. You can also frequent the forums and use the benefits of the almighty internet.
Extra morale boosting
It’s nice to have some spirit uplifting trick to administer in the dire times. This could mean spending more time with them, watching a sports movie together or investing in renewal of equipment. That may involve personalised backpacks, caps with their team symbol and matching trainers, to inspire a sense of togetherness and belonging.
To succeed, you have to adopt a comprehensive approach and never stoop before difficulties. And if your spirits dwindle a bit, your buddies will undoubtedly pick you up.